Columbus on board to seek bids for water interconnect 

Published 11:01 pm Sunday, March 3, 2019

Columbus, Saluda and Tryon plan to hire engineer to evaluate repairs 


COLUMBUS—The Town of Columbus is on board with seeking an engineer to see how to fix the joint water interconnect between Tryon and Saluda.  

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The water line is along Howard Gap Road and does not work. It was supposed to allow the towns of Columbus and Tryon and City of Saluda to exchange water in emergencies.  

Columbus Town Council met last week and approved sending out requests for proposals to engineers to find one to identify the issues and come up with estimates to repair the problems.  

Columbus Town Manager Tim Barth said the engineer selected would let the towns know what shape the interconnect system is in.  

“I think there has been some damage done that occurred in the past year and also what needs to be done to make this system operational,” Barth said.  

Barth said the towns need to find someone capable of doing this type of work. Not just any firm is going to be able to apply to do this work, he said.  

Barth also said the towns are going to want a firm who has experience as well as experience in writing state and federal grants, “because I think that anything that is done is gong to require a significant amount of money.”  

Columbus has decided that it will not spend any town funding on fixing the water interconnect. The only money Columbus is willing to spend is money the town’s acquired through a lawsuit, which was approximately $300,000.  

Tryon has also agreed to seek an engineering firm. The engineer will be paid out of the lawsuit shared by the three municipalities.  

Once selected, the engineer will determine the current issues with the system, the steps needed to repair the issues and the costs associated with the repairs.  

The water line, pumps and tank were installed several years ago, with construction complete in 2008, but shortly after it was discovered the system did not work.  

The project was paid for partly through a state grant and partly through financing that each of the three towns shared.  

The interconnect system did not work with the first issue noticed being that when Saluda tried to send water to Tryon, Saluda water customers’ had low to no water pressure. The towns sued the engineer who designed the system, Joel Wood, and settled to receive approximately $300,000.  

The state grant paid for approximately $1.5 million of the project and the towns spent approximately $1.5 million in financing the remainder of the project over the next 20 years.  

The towns enacted a user fee to water customers to pay back the loan for the interconnect